December 28, 2010

CPC, ACN alliance knocks out Ribadu

By Leke Adeseri, South West Regional Editor
LAGOS—BARRING last minute changes, the much expected outcome of the alliance talks between the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, and Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, will be known today.

The most significant outcome of the friendship is that it has put paid to the presidential ambition of the former boss of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mallam Nuhu  Ribadu, under the ACN.

This followed the final talks held in Lagos last night where the CPC leader, General Muhammadu Buhari, is likely to run as joint presidential candidate of the CPC and Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, on ACN’s platform with former Ekiti State governor, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, as his running mate, according to feelers from top_level CPC/ACN alliance talks held at ACN leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s house at Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi.

The CPC team was led by Buhari himself whileTinubu led ACN’s team.

Joint presidential candidate

Sources said the ACN leaders had already accepted Buhari as their joint presidential candidate. However, at last night’s meeting, they demanded that, following the APP/AD alliance formula of 1999, the CPC leader should run on ACN’s platform, since it is already too late to merge the two parties, as the ACN leaders initially preferred.

The ACN’s leaders’ demand, sources said, was because CPC is little known in the West, where ACN is now dominant, and it would be easier for the ACN leaders if the joint candidate ran on their ticket. It was not clear whether the CPC leaders accepted the demand, which would make matters very difficult for them too, since CPC is just making an impact in the North and its supporters would be confused if asked to vote for ACN.

Another issue said to have dominated last night’s talks, was the issue of a running mate for Buhari. The ACN leaders’ first preference was for Tinubu, who became the most powerful politician in the South West with ACN’s snatching of several states from the PDP through the courts.

However, the CPC delegation was quick to point out the political dangers of fielding a Muslim_Muslim ticket, especially in some parts of the country such as the North Central Zone.

A flurry of political activities took place that tended towards reshaping the political landscape, particularly the outcome of the general elections expected to hold in April 2011.

Some of those activities included the amalgamation of opposition elements, under the auspices of Patriotic Electoral Alliance of Nigeria, PEAN, in their efforts to wrest power from the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

This was followed by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s announcement of the shift and, perhaps, the final date for the conduct of the general election _ despite the pending debate at the National Assembly over the contentious Electoral Act.

Though an internal worry in the PDP, the emergence of the consensus candidate of the northern aspirants _ an exercise initiated by the Northern Political Leaders Forum, NPLF, led by the former Finance Minister, Adamu Ciroma, which endorsed former Vice President Atiku Abubakar _ was also another exciting activity which heightened the political tempo during the period in reference.

This is even more when the ambitions of heavy weights like former Military President Ibrahim Babangida; erstwhile National Security Adviser, Mohammed Gusau, and incumbent Governor of Kwara State who also doubles as Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Bukola Saraki, were sacrificed for Atiku.

The implication of the development is that the coming elections would be a keen contest. PDP has within its ranks a lot of rivalries to contend with, particularly with the vexed issue of the zoning which has dangerously gravitated towards ethnic colouration of who flies the party’s flag.

Deployment of strategies

However, the most worrisome is the potential of opposition parties to supplant PDP in the coming election, deploying whatever strategies; be it through alignment, merger, coalition, alliance, union or whatever terminology they choose.

The tempo has indeed heightened in the last couple of weeks and given vent to the discourse on probable alliances against the PDP in a bid to wrestle presidential power from President Goodluck Jonathan.

Of all the alliances, however, the one that appears to be the greatest threat to the PDP is the merger or alliance talk between the ACN and the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, championed by two heavyweights, Senator Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos State and unarguably the current strongest man in Southwest politics; and General Muhammadu Buhari, former military president, who today holds the record of the only Nigerian who has consistently but unsuccessfully sought to rule Nigerian in the last three general elections.

Though, it appears that the merger talks have witnessed many hitches, signals point to the possibility that both men are exploring other synergies to form a formidable force to confront their common foe.

Spokesmen of both parties, Lai Mohammed, ACN; and Denis Aghanya, CPC, agreed that there were irreconcilables over merger arrangement, but noted that the chances that alliances would sail through was a possibility.

The fact that ACN holds sway in the South West and are having serious impact in the South_South while CPC is the party to beat in the North, gave a ray of hope that there indeed was a possibility to wrestle power from PDP come 2011.